Three roadside bombs killed a US Army soldier and two Iraqi civilians, and police found the bodies of four Iraqi men in Baghdad who apparently had been kidnapped and tortured, police said yesterday.
The US casualty occurred about 9:50pm on Monday, approximately 60km south of Baghdad. The area is part of the infamous "triangle of death" and the scene of numerous ambushes against US and Iraqi troops, foreigners and Shiite civilians.
The bombing raised to at least 2,406 the number of members of the US military who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
It was the first reported US fatality this month. Last month, 70 US servicemen died in Iraq, the highest monthly figure since November, when 84 US servicemen were killed.
Monday's deadliest insurgent attack in Iraq occurred in Madain, a Shiite town 22km southeast of Baghdad, when a bomb exploded in an outdoor vegetable market, killing four Iraqis and wounding two.
In yesterday's violence, a roadside bomb missed a US convoy in Waziriyah, northern Baghdad, killing one civilian pedestrian, said police Captain Ali al-Obeidi. A roadside bomb also missed an Iraqi police patrol, killing one civilian and injuring another one in western Baghdad, said police 1st Lieutenant Maithem Abdel-Razaq.
At 7:30am, police found the bodies of four Iraqi men on the streets of Kazimiyah, a Shiite neighborhood in northern Baghdad, police Lieutenant Colonel Falah al-Mohammedawi said. The legs and hands of the men were bound with rope, and each had been shot in the head and chest before being dumped on a street, said al-Mohammedawi.
On Monday, at least 15 bullet-riddled bodies were found in the capital, Iraq's Interior Ministry said. The victims were men aged 20-40 years; all were handcuffed and blindfolded, the ministry said.
The US command also announced that Iraq's Central Criminal Court had convicted 12 suspected insurgents last month of crimes such as joining a terrorist group. They included two men who were given life sentences for joining al-Qaida in Iraq operations: Hassan Abdullah Muhsin and Mohammed Dhaher Ibrahim Yassen Jazzah.
US officials hope the new Iraqi government, expected to be finalized this month, will be able to calm sectarian tensions and lure many minority Sunni Arabs away from the insurgency so US and other international troops can begin heading home.
President Jalal Talabani was quoted by his office as saying on Sunday that he had met with representatives of seven armed groups and was optimistic they would agree to lay down their arms. However, an official in Talabani's office said Monday the president did not meet with the groups and that his security adviser, Lieutenant General Wafiq al-Sammaraie, made the contacts.
Another Kurdish politician, Mahmoud Othman, also said Talabani had not met with any insurgent representatives but that al-Sammaraie was in contact with undisclosed groups not linked to Saddam Hussein loyalists or al-Qaeda in Iraq.
In Washington, US President George W. Bush said he was convinced Iraq's leadership is "more determined than ever to succeed" with formation of a new permanent government.
"We believe we've got partners to help the Iraqi people realize their dreams," Bush said after meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who visited Baghdad last week. "They need to know that we stand with them."